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Half Moon Series 

Published in the Interest of the New York 
City History Club. 

Volume I. Number VIII. 



By maud wilder GOODWIN. 

IN the autumn of 1626, the good ship Arms 
of Amsterdam sailed away to Holland 
bearing tidings of the tiny Dutch colony at 
the "Manhattes," which it left in a thriving 
condition. The report, forwarded to the 
West India Company, pictured the settlers as 
already making comfortable dwellings for 
themselves. Thirty log-houses, with roofs 
made from the bark of trees, huddled close to- 
gether at the end of the island. The counting- 
house boasted walls of stone and a thafched 
roof, and Francois Molemaecker was building 
a mill with two stories, of which the upper 
one was to form a spacious room large enough 
to serve as a meeting-place for almost the en- 
tire colony, and the mill was to be still further 

Copyright, 1897, by Maud Wilder Goodwin. 






fovt Hmster^am 


of Jfort 


adorned by a tower wherein should be hung 
bells brought hither from Porto Rico. 

In those days no settlement was complete 
without a fortification, and the first care of the 
colonists was to build a fort which should 
prove both a protection and a refuge from 
their enemies. As they had paid the natives 
for their land, it was not so much the Indians 
whom they feared, as other Europeans, covet- 
ous, like themselves, of possessions in the 
New World. 

After much discussion as to the position of 
this fort, the settlers finally decided to place 
it boldly at the very point of the island where 
their flag of orange and blue might wave defi- 
ance to any alien vessel seeking to penetrate 
Hudson's River, or any adventurer aiming to 
appropriate the territory of the Dutch West 
India Company. 

The green-turfed land which forms the end 
of Manhattan Island to-day was then under 
water at high tide, and the Capske, a sharp 
ledge of rock dividing the North and East 
rivers, terminated a little south of State Street. 
On the slope of land to the north of this, the 
site of the fort was laid on the ground now 
marked by a row of steamship offices at the 
foot of Bowling Green. 

The engineer who superintended the build- 
ing of this early fortification was named Kryn 
Fredericksen. He found material scarce, and 

ifort Hmster&am 


labor in such demand for house-building, that 
he could plan only for a blockhouse, encircled 
by palisadoes built of red cedar, and sodded 

While this rude structure was in process of 
erection, an episode having serious conse- 
quences occurred. A friendly Indian of the 
Weckquaeskeeck tribe, who inhabited what 
is now Westchester County, came with his 
nephew to trade at the Dutch village. Three 
servants belonging to Peter Minuit, then 
Director of the colony, fell upon the Indian, 
robbed him of his wares and finally murdered 
him. The nephew escaped, and returned to 
his tribe vowing vengeance, which he wreaked 
to his full satisfaction nearly twenty years later. 

Except for this ominous episode, the up- 
building of the little town went forward pros- 
perously. The new fortification was completed 
and christened Fort Amsterdam and the ham- 
let nestling under its protection was declared 
the capital of New Netherland. 

The relations between the Dutch settlers 
and their colonial neighbors were now, as 
always, uncertain, and ready at any time on 
slight provocation to break out into open war- 
fare. In 1627, there was some threat of diffi- 
culty with the English concerning the right of 
trading with the Indians ; but it ended ami- 
cably. Governor Bradford of Massachusetts 
received from Director Minuit of New Nether- 


bouse 3Built 


3Fort Hmstert>am 

Ubreat of 


wttb tbe 



land "a rundlet of sugar and two Holland 
cheese," and the nations whom the governors 
represented continued at peace. This experi- 
ence, however, impressed upon the settlers 
at New Amsterdam the necessity of strength- 
ening the very primitive defences which were 
their only reliance in case of war, and, ac- 
cordingly, in the year 1633, Wouter van 
Twiller, who had succeeded Minuit as Di- 
rector, ordered the construction of a fort more 
nearly adequate to the needs of the settlers. 

So substantial was this fort that two years 
passed before its completion. Its shape was 
a quadrangle with a bastion at each corner. 
The northwest bastion was faced with "good 
quarry stone," and the earthworks were thor- 
oughly repaired by negroes in the employ of 
the Dutch West India Company, under the 
superintendence of Jacob Stoffelsen. 

Within the enclosure stood three wind- 
mills, a guardhouse and barracks, besides the 
"big house " built by Van Twiller for his own 
occupancy. The fort itself was not very ex- 
tensive according to modern ideas. It meas- 
ured only some three hundred feet in length 
by two hundred and fifty in breadth, yet the 
cost of completing it (including probably the 
buildings within) was 4172 guilders, or be- 
tween sixteen and seventeen hundred dollars. 
One of the buildings in the enclosure soon 
came to an untimely end. A man named 

3fort HmsterDam 


Van Vorst undertook to fire a salute in honor 
of the Director-General from a stone gun 
which stood near the house. A spark from 
the wadding lodged on the roof, which, being 
covered with reed, caught fire at once, and 
the whole building was destroyed in less than 
half an hour. 

The old fort witnessed scenes of jollity in 
those early days. On one occasion, the first 
gunner held a festivity at one of the angles of 
the fort, where a tent had been erected and 
tables set out. In the midst of the feasting, a 
trumpeter blew a sudden blast upon his 
trumpet, much to the alarm of the revellers. 
The Coopman of Cargoes and the Coopman 
of Stores ' were so wrathful, that, they called 
the trumpeter hard names, and he in return 
administered to each a sound thrashing, which 
put an end to the merry evening. 

Van Twiller's control over the colony 
lasted only a short time after the completion 
of the fort. In March, 1638, Kieft arrived to 
take the reins of government from his hand. 
Kieft found the defences in a ruinous state. 
The fort, finished only three years before, was 
in a shameful condition of disrepair ; the 
guns dismounted, the public buildings within 
the walls in ruins. Of the three windmills 
only one was in operation, and the walls of 

' " Coopman of Cargoes " i.e., supercargo of a ship, and 
" Coopman of Stores" store-keeper. 

Brrival of 


ifort Hmster&am 



the fort were so beaten down that any might 
come in or go out at their will "save at the 
stone point." 

This state of things was the more unfortun- 
ate inasmuch as Director Kieft's injudicious 
belligerency soon plunged the colony into a 
series of quarrels with the natives. Under 
orders from Holland, as he declared, Kieft 
undertook to lay a tax upon the Indians, who 
expressed their wrath in vehement protest 
against "the Sakema of the Fort." He was 
but a mean fellow, they declared. He had not 
invited them to come and live here that he 
should now lay claim to the corn which they 
had planted. 

So violent did this feeling become that Kieft 
found it necessary to order every inhabitant to 
provide himself with a gun, and warned the set- 
tlers that, in case of a night attack, at a precon- 
certed signal of three cannon shots they were 
to appear armed at the fort in military order. 

The position of the settlers on outlying 
"bouweries" grew more and more perilous. 
Massacres were reported from Staten Island, 
massacres often too cruelly avenged by the 
Dutch, who grew more and more blood-thirsty 
and greedy for plunder. One day in the 
summer of 1641, word was brought to the 
fort of the murder of Claes, "the Raadmaker" 
(in English, wheelwright) living on the west 
shore of the river. The old man, so the story 

jfort Bmster^am 


ran, had received a visit from a young Indian, 
who had been in the habit of working for the 
son of Claes and who came to the house 
professedly to purchase cloth. Claes hospit- 
ably set food before him and then went to 
a chest, wherein the cloth was kept. As the 
Raadmaker stooped, the savage struck him 
dead with an axe. 

This story naturally filled the settlers with 
horror, nor was their rage diminished by learn- 
ing that the murderer was no other than the 
nephew of the Weckquaeskeeck Indian, who 
had met with foul play at the hands of 
Director Minuit's servants twenty years before. 
On receiving the news of the Raadmaker's 
murder, Kieft sent at once to the Chief of the 
Weckquaeskeeck tribe demanding the surren- 
der of the murderer ; but the Sachem 
haughtily replied that he wished the young 
warrior had slain twenty Christians instead of 
one and that he had justly carried out the 
traditions of his race in avenging the murder 
of his relative. This answer roused the 
Director to a state of frenzy. He determined 
to call a council of war to authorize him in 
proceeding against the contumacious Indians. 
On the 28th day of August, 1641^ accordingly, 
all the masters and heads of families dwelling 
in or near New Amsterdam assembled in the 
fort to consider the question of the punish- 
ment of the Weckquaeskeecks. 

il^ur^er of 

tbe 1Raa9s 




jfoct Hmstert)am 


Httempt at 





This gathering was noteworthy as the first 
effort at popular government in the colony 
and the burghers shrewdly made the most of 
it by appointing a committee of the Twelve 
Men to co-operate with the Director. Kieft 
himself began to realize that he had raised 
spirits which he could not lay, and bitterly re- 
sented the restrictions which the Twelve 
Men sought to lay upon his impetuosity. He 
desired to attack the Indians at once ; but 
the Twelve counselled delay and the popu- 
lar will so enforced their authority, that Kieft 
was compelled to yield to their judgment and 
to postpone action. 

It would have seemed natural, that this pe- 
riod of delay should be spent in preparation 
for the strife to come, in strengthening the de- 
fences and arming the outposts ; but, instead, 
Kieft began the erection of a series of elabor- 
ate, expensive and comparatively unneccessary 
buildings inside the fortification, and spent 
upon them the money which should have 
been laid out upon stout masonry and iron 
guns. Besides the fine, stone tavern erected 
among the thatched-roofed, wooden-chim- 
neyed cottages huddling about Fort Amster- 
dam, within the walls of the fort rose still 
more substantial buildings. The most im- 
posing of these was the new church, which 
owed its origin, it is to be feared, less to piety 
than to vanity, since, until the taunts of De 

jfort HmsterDam 


Vries called attention to "the mean barn" 
which was all that the dwellers in New Am- 
sterdam had to show in contrast with the well- 
ordered meeting-houses of New England, the 
old chapel in the village had been deemed suf- 
ficient by the worshippers of the little colony. 
Now, however, it was determined to erect a fine 
church, which should be a credit to the whole 
province of New Netherland, the expense of the 
building to be borne partly by the West India 
Company and partly by private subscriptions. 
A contract, "done at Fort Amsterdam," and 
dated May, 1642, sets forth the agreement be- 
tween William Kieft, church-warden and John 
and Richard Ogden, by which the Ogdens 
bind themselves to build a church seventy-two 
feet long, fifty-two broad and sixteen feet high 
above the soil, for the sum of 2500 guilders 
equal to about $1000, the price to be paid in 
beaver, or other merchandise. It is stipulated 
that the contractors shall procure the stone 
and bring it ashore near the fort, for which 
purpose they shall be allowed the use of the 
Company's boat for a month or six weeks. 
The church-wardens agree to convey the 
stone from the shore to the fort, and to fur- 
nish the lime with which to lay it. If the 
work is done "in a workmanlike manner" 
and to the satisfaction of the employers, the 
contractors are to receive a bonus of an ad- 
ditional hundred guilders. 


a Cburcb 


jfort Hmster^am 




There were not wanting carping critics who 
spoke of the kerck as "the fifth wheel to a 
coache," objected to such a use of money, 
and even doubted the wisdom of building a 
new church at all, especially in the fort where, 
as they pointed out, it occupied a quarter of 
all available space and, moreover, by its lo- 
cation would necessarily shut off the southeast 
wind from the gristmill on which the settlers 
depended for grinding their corn. 

Director Kieft and Dominie Bogardus proved 
too strong for the objectors, however, and the 
church finally raised its steep double-pointed 
roof above the walls of the fort. That the 
building might preserve his own memory, as 
well as testify to the glory of God, the Di- 
rector caused to be inserted in the front a 
tablet bearing the inscription : 


" Willem Kieft, Directeur Generael 

" Heeft De Gemeente Desen Tempel Doen 

Bouwen." ' 

A century later the church was burned and 
the slab buried in dirt, whence it was dug up 
when the fort itself was demolished in 1789. 
The slab was removed for safe-keeping to the 
Dutch church in Garden Street; but on the de- 

• "An Dom — 1642 
[When] Willem Kieft was Director-General 
The Congregation built this temple." 

jfort HmsterOam 


struction of that building by fire, the slab 
commemorating Kieft and his greatness dis- 
appeared forever. 

Besides the ground given up to the new 
church the space in the fort was further en- 
croached upon by other buildings civic and 
domestic rather than military in character. 
The quaint windmill, with its long arms and 
revolving tower, occupied one corner, and 
near the Gevangen Huys or jail, stood the 
Governor's house, which for that day was an 
elaborate and elegant mansion, having an 
"entry" twenty feet wide, and a double- 
faced chimney to keep it warm. It was sur- 
rounded by walks measuring ten feet in width, 
and altogether must have required much 
money and labor to equip and maintain. It 
is not strange that there should have been 
some murmuring among the thrifty burghers 
over such expenditures, especially at this 
crisis when matters were growing daily more 
threatening, and the settlers dared scarcely 
stir abroad for fear of savages. 

The conduct of the colonists in general and 
the Director in particular was marked at this 
time by a mixture of ferocity and cowardice. 
A large number of Weckquaeskeeck Indians 
were massacred in cold blood by the Dutch, 
after they had sued for peace and sought 
shelter in the fort from their powerful enemy, 
the Mohawks. Other tribes had been treated 

(n tbe iFort 



jfort HmsterDam 





with equally brutal disregard of both principle 
and policy, till, at last, in 1643, the settlers 
found themselves by their own folly involved in 
a general Indian warfare. The only hope of the 
colony on Manhattan Island now lay in the 
protection afforded by Fort Amsterdam, and 
its inadequacy was painfully apparent. A 
Jesuit priest who travelled through New 
Netherland at this time, writes thus of its 
condition : 

"This fort which is at the point of the island, is called 
Fort Amsterdam. It has four regular bastions mounted with 
several pieces of artillery. All these bastions and curtains 
were in 1643 ^"t ramparts of earth most of which had 
crumbled away so that the fort could be entered on all 
sides. There were no ditches. There were sixty soldiers 
to garrison the said fort and another which they had built 
still farther up against the incursions of the savages, their 
enemies. They were beginning to face the gates and 
bastions with stone." 

In October, 1643, the Eight Men who had 
succeeded the Twelve as representatives of 
the colony, wrote home to the "Honorable, 
Wise, Prudent Gentlemen of the XIX. of 
the General Incorporated West India Com- 
pany, Department of Amsterdam," com- 
plaining bitterly of the harrying they were 
undergoing at the hands of the allied Indians, 
who having sent their old men, women and 
children into the interior, were in excellent 
fighting condition. "The most expert war- 
riors," the complaint says, "hang daily on 

jfort BmsterDam 


our necks with fire and sword, and threaten 
to attack the fort with all their force of about 
fifteen hundred men. This we hourly expect." 
The only place of shelter the letter declares to 
be Fort Amsterdam, and this so poorly sup- 
plied with men and ammunition as to be 
nearly useless. "The fort is defenceless and 
entirely out of order, and resembles (with sub- 
mission) rather a molehill than a fort against 
an enemy." 

The colonists must now have bitterly re- 
gretted the eight thousand guilders which, as 
we learn from later records, proved the 
actual cost of the fine new church, a sum 
which might well have fitted out a stout de- 
fence around the little colony. Feeling had 
already begun to run high against Kieft and 
his mismanagement ; but for the present no 
one had any thought except for immediate 
defence against the enemy. Fearing that their 
appeal to the West India Company might 
prove insufficient, the Eight Men ten days 
later sent a still more pressing letter addressed 
this time to the "Noble, High and Mighty 
Lords, the Noble Lords, the States-General 
of the United Netherlands Provinces." This 
appeal sets forth that 

"we poor inhabitants of New Netherland were here in the 
spring pursued by these wild Heathen and barbarous Savages 
with fire and sword. Daily in our houses and fields have 
they cruelly murdered men and women, and with hatchets 

Xettet of 

tbe £fgbt 




fovt HmsterOam 

of Coloa 



and tomahawks struck little children dead in their parents' 
arms, or before their doors, or carried them away into bond- 
age. The houses and grain barracks are burnt with the 
produce ; cattle of all description are slain and destroyed, 
and such as remain must perish this approaching winter for 
the want of fodder. Almost every place is abandoned. We, 
wretched people, must skulk with wives and little ones that 
still survive in poverty together in and around the fort at the 
Manahates where we are not safe even for an hour ; whilst 
the Indians daily threaten to overwhelm us with it. Very 
little can be planted this autumn and much less in the spring ; 
so that it will come to pass that all of us who will yet save 
our lives must of necessity perish next year of hunger and 
sorrow with our wives and children unless our God have 
pity on us. 

" We are all here, from the smallest to the greatest, de- 
void of counsel and means, wholly powerless. The enemy 
meets with scarce any resistance. The garrison consists of 
but fifty to sixty soldiers unprovided with ammunition. 
Fort Amsterdam, utterly defenceless, stands open to the 
enemy day and night. 

" The Company have few or no effects here (as the Di- 
rector has informed us). Were it not for this, there would 
have been still time to receive assistance fi^om the English at 
the East ere all had gone to ruin ; and we wretched settlers, 
whilst we must abandon all our substance are exceedingly 

" These heathens are strong in might. They have formed 
an alliance with seven other Nations, are well provided with 
guns, powder and lead, which they purchased for beaver 
from the private traders who have had for a long time free 
range here ; the rest they take from our fellow-countrymen, 
whom they murder. In fine, we experience the greatest 
misery, which must astonish a Christian heart to see or to 

The case of the settlers under the shadow 

ifort Hm5terC)am 


of the fort, and of the fugitives who crouched 
within its feeble shelter, was pitiable indeed. 
The wonder is that the fort and its garrison 
survived at all ; but the colonists struggled on 
under difficulties and discouragements, as 
their countrymen have had a way of doing 
the world over ; and, at last, in the summer 
of 1645, a general peace was declared between 
the colonists and the natives. After four years 
of warfare, the settlers breathed again. Men 
went out into the fields by day in quiet and 
slept at night without dream of war-whoops 
or fire-brands. The coming of peace, how- 
ever, did not diminish the importance of the 
fort. It still continued the cor cordmm of 
New Netherland. The weightiest communi- 
cations addressed to Their High Mightinesses, 
the States-General, were dated from the fort 
and here counsel was taken on things spirit- 
ual and temporal, peaceful and warlike. Here, 
too, punishments were meted out, and the 
punishments of our ancestors were formidable 

The Dutch archives contain accounts of 
the discipline of a female, who was found 
guilty of slandering the Reverend Everardus 
Bogardus, Pastor of the church within the 
fort. It was decreed that the "said female" 
should be obliged to appear at the sound of 
the bell before the Governor and Council in 
the fort, and there solemnly to declare that 





jfort amsterOam 



she knew the dominie to be honest and pious, 
and that she had "lied falsely." Sterner pun- 
ishments awaited evil doers of the male sex. 
Jan Hobbes, for theft, was put to the torture 
and two soldiers found guilty of blasphemy 
were condemned to ride the wooden horse, 
an animal more awful than that within the 
Trojan walls. It stood under the shadow of 
the fort, and on its razor-back the criminal 
was seated, with iron stirrups and leaden 
weights attached to his unlucky legs. 

Kieft, who in spite of his shortcomings was 
a rigid disciplinarian, achieved order, where 
anarchy had formerly reigned among the gar- 
rison at the fort. He laid down a strict code 
of laws and penalties, applying especially to 
those on guard. This code reads : 

" Section I : Whosoever abuses the name of God when 
on guard shall pay a fine for the first offence of ten stivers ; 
for the second, twenty stivers ; for the third, thirty stivers. 

"Section II: He, who speaks scandal of a comrade 
during the time he is on guard, shall pay thirty stivers. 

" Section III : He, who arrives tipsy or intoxicated for 
duty, shall pay twenty stivers. 

"Section IV : He, who neglects to be present without 
sufficient cause, fifty stivers. 

" Lastly, He who, when the duty on guard is well per- 
formed, and the sun is risen and reveille beat, fires a musket 
without his corporal's orders, shall pay one guilder." 

This code of military law was read aloud 
by a corporal every time the soldiers went on 
guard, that none might plead ignorance as an 

ifort BmsterOam 


excuse for failure in obedience. Besides this 
reading of the code, the corporal's daily task 
was the superintendence of the cleaning and 
charging of muskets, the examination of 
cartridge-boxes, and, most difficult of all, the 
prevention of the smuggling of liquor into the 
fort. The many records of drunken frays 
among the soldiers bear witness that this part 
of the corporal's duty was sometimes slighted, 
or else that the soldiers had opportunities of 
securing liquor when they were off duty. 

"William the Testy," with his sharp gray 
eyes and his round, red face was always on 
the watch for offenders, and woe to the 
laggard coming sleepily to his post after re- 
veille had called to duty at daybreak, or to him 
who loitered with his sweetheart by the shore 
when tattoo had sounded at nine o'clock in 
the evening ! 

About the time of the closing of the Indian 
war, the colonists received a document from 
the Assembly of the XIX. or Governing Board 
of the West India Company containing 
valuable advice, which like much good advice 
came rather late. The letter recommended 
that colonists should be compelled to settle near 
each other in towns and villages in order to be 
able to give mutual assistance in time of 
danger ; and it further advised the repairing of 
Fort Amsterdam, which was now in such a 
state of utter ruin and collapse, that men went 



ffort Hmster^am 

to If ort 



in and out over the wall instead of through the 
gate. This repairing was ordered to be done 
with stone, and the expense was estimated at 
a sum between twenty and twenty-five thou- 
sand guilders. In addition to the masonry, the 
earthworks were to be restored with "good 
clay and firm sods " and the soldiers were to 
be employed as laborers to reduce the cost. 

A list of the officers, employees and garrison 
to be engaged, together with their salaries is 
annexed, and includes, 

I Director, 

3000 fl 

I Clergyman, 

1440 " 

I Constable, (g 


240 " 

I Schoolmaster 

and Sexton, 

360 " 

I Provost, 

180 " 

I Corporal to i 

ict as 


180 " 

I Commander, 

720 " 

I Ensign, 

540 " 

2 Sergeants, 

600 " 

2 Corporals, 

432 " 

1 Drummer, 

156 " 

4 Cadets, 

720 " 

40 Soldiers, 

6240 " 

I Surgeon, 

300 " 

I Skipper, 

300 " 

4 Sailors, 

624 " 

I Boy, 

108 " 

A florin was equivalent to about forty cents. 
This number of florins therefore represented 

jfort Bmster^am 


less than half the same number of dollars, so 
that the pay of a common soldier in the Fort 
Amsterdam garrison was about fifty dollars 
yearly, while the Director himself received 
between twelve and fifteen hundred. Even 
at these moderate wages, the West India 
Company was losing money on its venture, 
and its books show that the colony of New 
Netherland had cost the Company more than 
half a million guilders, over and above returns, 
during the years from 1626 to 1644 inclusive. 
As Kieft and his mismanagement were re- 
sponsible for much of the loss it is not surpris- 
ing that his recall was agreed upon by the 
Assembly in old Amsterdam, greatly to the 
delight of the settlers in New Amsterdam, 
by whom he was thoroughly detested. 

The newly appointed Director, Petrus 
Stuyvesant, came over heralded by the fame 
of his statesmanship and military powers. 
He had been Governor of Curasao, and the loss 
of his leg at the siege of St. Martins (then 
occupied by the Portuguese) had established 
his claim to doughty soldiership. Now, surely, 
the seaport fortress of New Netherland might 
look for better days. This old soldier would 
see to it at once that its defences were put in 
order and its guns made ready to belch de- 
fiance at the foe. 

No wonder that there was much rejoicing 
throughout the little Dutch town on the point 




Ifort BmsterDam 



of Manhattan Island, on that May morning in 
1647, when the news spread abroad that the 
fleet bearing the new governor, Director Stuy- 
vesant, his lady and their suite, had cast 
anchor in the bay. The inhabitants in their 
best attire thronged to the shore below the 
fort, and the fort itself brave in banners 
opened salute from all its great guns at once. 
The four ships in the harbor responded with 
similar salutes, and afterward Stuyvesant came 
ashore amid much waving of flags and a 
tumultuous greeting from the people. 

This was a gala day long remembered, 
but by no means the only one in the history 
of the fort, which was the scene of most of 
the merrymaking as well as most of the 
solemn ceremonials of the colony. On Nieiiw 
Jaar and Kerstydt (Christmas) the Governor's 
house was ablaze with candles and the young 
men and maidens danced in the "entry." On 
Paas (Easter), the villagers collected in the 
stone church at the summons of those Porto 
Rico bells, whose chimes were rung by a 
"klink" or bell-ringer,*^who lodged under the 
belfry in the fort, and over the door of whose 
chamber was carved a quaint inscription 
dedicating "the holy cell" to the Son of 

Of all the festivals which were held in the 
old fort none was gayer or more memorable 
than that celebrated one day in February, 

Ifort Bmster&ant 


1653, when the village of New Amsterdam 
became the City of New Amsterdam. On this 
day, the city fathers marched to the kerck in 
the fort in solemn procession, preceded by the 
bell-ringer bearing cushions of state for the 
pews of the dignitaries. At their head strode 
Peter Stuyvesant the stout-hearted hero de- 
scribed by Irving, with his regimental coat 
decorated with brass buttons from chin to 
waistband, the skirts turned up at the corners, 
and separating at the back to display the 
seat of a sumptuous pair of brimstone-color 
breeches ; his hair standing out on each side 
stiff with pomatum, his wooden leg set boldly 
in advance, one hand firmly grasping his gold- 
headed cane, the other holding the hilt of his 
doughty sword. ■ 

All these festivals and merrymakings were 
very pleasant, no doubt, and perhaps served 
their purpose in easing the strained relations be- 
tween the citizens of New Amsterdam and the 
West India Company, with which they were 
continually at odds ; but they did little toward 
solving the problems of defence from hostile 
attack which perpetually stared the settlers in 
the face. The relations with the neighboring 
settlers, the Swedes on one side and the Eng- 
lish on the other, were so uncertain that in a 
petition to the States-General, the first appli- 
cation for a municipal charter, the burghers 
humbly beseech Their High Mightinesses 

mew Hms 

a Cits 



dfort Hmster^am 


of StuB= 


"to be pleased to determine and so to establish and order 
the Boundaries of this Province, that all causes of difference, 
disunion, and trouble may be cut off and prevented ; that 
Their High Mightinesses' subjects may live and dwell in 
peace and quietness, and enjoy their liberty as well in trade 
and commerce as in intercourse and settled limits. (2d.) That 
Their High Mightinesses would be pleased to preserve us in 
peace with the neighboring Republics, Colonies, and others. 
Their High Mightinesses' allies." 

This mild request to be kept in prosperity 
and at peace with all the world in these troub- 
lous times was far from being fulfilled. Not 
only did the neighbors continue to snarl at each 
others heels over questions of boundary, etc., 
but the Governor himself, to whose coming 
the New Netherlanders had looked forward 
with such delight, had grown wellnigh as 
unpopular as his predecessor in the eyes of 
the colonists. He early displayed the arbitra- 
riness of his disposition, when in one of the 
first contests with the burghers over some 
injustice of Kieft's he exclaimed, "These 
boorish brutes would hereafter endeavor to 
knock me over also ; but 1 shall now manage 
it so that they will have their bellies full in all 
time to come." 

On another occasion when Cornells Melyn 
pleaded for grace till the result of his appeal 
to the court over-seas could be heard, the 
Director sternly replied, "Had I known, 
Melyn, that you would have divulged our 

jfort Hmster^am 



sentence, or brought it before Their High 
Mightinesses, I should have had you hanged 
forthwith on the highest tree in New Nether- 

The irascible old Governor afterward made 
his censure still more general, and announced 
that as it had come to his knowledge that 
some people were thinking of appealing from 
his judgments, he wished it understood that 
should any one attempt such a piece of in- 
subordination, " I would have him made a 
foot shorter, pack the pieces off to Holland 
and let him appeal in that way." 

Director Stuyvesant did not know the men 
with whom he had to deal, if he thought to 
frighten them into subserviency. Adriaen van 
der Donck and his fellows fought stubbornly 
for their rights and privileges and especially 
against unjust taxation. They declared they 
would not be unequally taxed for the support 
of the government and the strengthening of 
defences, and refused the amounts demanded, 
unless the Governor would supply a fair 
amount from the revenues derived from ex- 
cise, etc. 

The result of all these petty bickerings was 
of course most disastrously felt in the condi- 
tion of the fort. Times continued hard, the 
Company niggardly, the Governor tyrannical, 
and the burghers recalcitrant. In March, 1653, 
the Director sent the following appealing letter 


Ifort HmsterDam 

eant's %et= 

tcr to 






to the burgomasters and schepens of the little 
town : 

" Honorable, Dear and Distinguished [Friends]: 
" We see with great grief the damages done to the walls 
of the fort by hogs, especially now again in the spring, when 
the grass comes out. We made an order concerning it last 
year at the request of the Select Men, who promised properly 
to fence in the fort and to keep the hogs meanwhile from 
the walls. But seeing, after the lapse of a year, that nothing 
or at least only little has been done and that what has been 
done at the fort has again been destroyed by the pigs, as 
may daily be learned, we are compelled to enter a protest 
about the non-fulfilment of the promise, being told that the 
failure of it, the destruction of the walls and all our works, 
is caused by the Select Men having been superseded and 
their authority and duties transferred to Burgomasters and 
Schepens, who had accepted to do the work. How this is, 
we do not know, but we see, to our trouble and shame, the 
pigs daily on the walls, busy with their destruction. There- 
fore we request Burgomasters and Schepens to give an order 
in accordance with the beforementioned promise and pre- 
vent the pigs. Else we shall be compelled to carry out our 
former order. Relying thereon we remain. Honorable, Dear, 
' Distinguished [Friends], 

'* Your well-meaning friend, 

" P. Stuyvesant." 

" The Burgomasters and Schepens decided, upon the letter 
of the Director-General, provisionally to engage a herdsman 
and in the meantime to make the fence as quickly as pos- 
sible, the Director-General having promised to furnish the 
posts. Done, etc., this^ist of March, 1653. 

(Signed) " Arent van Hattem, 

WiLH. Beeckman, 
Allard Antoky." 

3fort BmsterDam 


It would appear that the herdsman did not 
understand his business very well, or else that 
there were more hogs than people in New 
Amsterdam, for the records five months later 
harp on the same old complaint from the 
Governor : 


tbe iFort 


" Respected and Very Dear: 

"We cannot, consistently with duty, omit calling your 
Worships' attention to the injurious and intolerable destruc- 
tion, which we, to our great dissatisfaction, daily behold 
the hogs committing on the newly finished works of the 
fort, whence the ruin thereof will certainly ensue. 

" And whereas Burgomasters and Schepens, in violation 
of their solemn promises made both in writing and orally, 
will not lend a hand to repairing and strengthening the 
same, we can certainly expect they will adopt measures and 
take care, that what we with great pains and labor have 
brought so far will not again be destroyed by hogs, and 
thus all our labor be rendered useless, it being certainly the 
practice in no place to permit cattle to run at large to the 
injury and damage both of individuals and the public. 
Without more remonstrance then, in case this matter is not 
speedily and promptly attended to by your Worships, we 
hereby protest, that necessity compels us to provide therein 
by the following Ordinance and Placard, whereof we by 
these presents, do first notify the Burgomasters and Schepens, 
and clear ourselves of all damage and injury that may follow 
therefrom. Done at Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland 
the 1 2th August, 1653. 

(Signed) " P. Stuyvesant." 

" City Hall, Tuesday, the 12 August, 1653, 4 o'clock in 
the afternoon. Present. — Arent Van Hattem, Marten 
Krigier, Poulus Leendersen, and M. Van Gheel. 


3fort HmsterDam 

tibectinQ of 



" Having taken into consideration the foregoing Remon- 
strance of tile Honble General, the same is postponed until 
the arrival of the other Schepens, who are absent. 

" Wednesday afternoon Burgomasters and Schepens again 
met except Pieter Couwenhoven. Adjourned to 8 o'clock 

" Burgomasters and Schepens of this City New Amster- 
dam assembled together. 

" Having seen the R&monstrance of the Honble General 
and his complaint concerning the damage the hogs are 
daily doing to the fort and the newly erected works, the 
Burgomasters and Schepens do therefore order their Court 
messenger to notify the Burghers that every one of them 
shall take care of his hogs or keep them in the sty until the 
fort and recently constructed works have been fenced in 
with palisades to preserve said works from damage, or in 
default thereof, such persons shall be held responsible for the 
damage and injury. Thus done and enacted this 14 August 
A° 165'?, New Amsterdam. (Signed) Arent Van Hattem, 
1653, Martin Krigier, Pouls L. Van die Grift, Wilh: Beeck- 
man, Pieter Wolfersen, Maximilianus Van Gheel." 

The flurry of the threatened English invasion 
in 1653 brought about some improvement in 
the condition of the fort, as well as in the de- 
fences to the northward along the Singel : but 
the zeal for fortifying died out with the alarm 
and was finally buried when on July 18, 1654, 
amid much bell-ringing and public rejoicing, a 
proclamation was affixed to the wall of the 
Stadt-Huys announcing that a compact of 
" Peace, Union, and Confederation " had been 
made and concluded at Westminster between 
the commissioners of the Lord Protector and 
the ambassadors of the Lords States-General. 

jfort Hm6terC)am 


For ten years longer the old fort mouldered 
peacefully away, as tranquil in its decay as 
though it had received a certified discharge 
from active duty. But at length, in the early 
summer of 1664, startling rumors began to fly 
about of a threatened invasion, which might 
drive the hogs off the earthworks once more 
and set the rusty guns to a trial of their 
strength. Stuyvesant's troublous rule, after 
a duration of seventeen years, was about to 
be brought to a violent, if not untimely end 
at last. Shortly after the Restoration of 
Charles II., that monarch by a royal charter 
("the most despotic instrument recorded in 
the colonial archives of England ") conveyed 
to his brother, the Duke of York, a vast tract 
of American land, including on the east the 
country between the Saint Croix and the 
Pemaquid, and on the west the tract between 
the Connecticut and the Delaware rivers with 
all adjacent islands, thus completely oblit- 
erating the Dutch ownership of New Nether- 

Without warning to the Dutch of ap- 
proaching hostilities the Duke despatched four 
vessels, the Guinea, the Elias, the Martin, 
and the William and Nicholas. These ships 
bore five hundred soldiers and had also on 
board Richard Nicolls, who was to be Deputy- 
Governor of the conquered province, Sir 
George Cartwright, Robert Carr and Samuel 


of TKOiac 



jfort Bmster^am 


Jflect Sent 

to IRcw 




Maverick. These commissioners were ordered 
to take possession of New Netherland and es- 
tablish an English settlement to be known as 
New York. Rumors of the proposed on- 
slaught reached New Netherland from Boston, 
where the English squadron had put in for 
further reinforcement ; but the suddenness of 
the attack gave little time for preparation of 
defence, and the Governor himself came flying 
back post haste from Fort Orange,' whither he 
had been called by some disturbance among 
the Indians. 

On the 28th of August, 1664, the English 
fleet came to an anchor in Gravesend Bay, 
and the garrison at Fort Amsterdam knew 
that the struggle was at hand and that sure 
defeat awaited them. Stuyvesant's position 
was a most difficult one. The inhabitants of 
the town had no spirit for resistance, the fort 
was in no state of readiness for a siege, the 
hostile vessels were already preparing to open 
fire ; but still he strove to parley. On Sep- 
tember 3d, a deputation was sent to Nicolls, 
the English commander, but he refused dis- 

"When may we visit you again?" the 
deputation asked. 

"On Thursday," answered Nicolls, "for 
to-morrow I will speak with you at Manhat- 

* Albany. 

jfort HmsterOam 


"Friends are welcome there," answered 
the Dutchman diplomatically. 

"Raise the white flag of peace," answered 
Nicolls, "for I shall come with ships of war 
and soldiers." 

While these negotiations were proceeding 
the burghers of New Amsterdam were con- 
stantly sending remonstrances to Stuyvesant 
and his advisers demanding a surrender. 
These remonstrances set forth the weakness 
of their situation : 

"We shall now examine," they said, "your Honors' 
fortress. You know in your own consciences that it is in- 
capable of making head against so powerful an enemy. 
Granting even that it could hold out against its assailant, 
one, two, three, five, or six months (which to our sorrow it 
cannot) it is still undeniable that it cannot save the smallest 
portion of our entire city, our property, and, what is dearer 
to us, our wives and children from total ruin ; for after con- 
siderable bloodshed even the fort itself could not be preserved. 
Wherefore, to prevent and arrest all the aforesaid misfortune, 
we humbly and in bitterness of heart, implore your Honors 
not to reject the conditions of so generous a foe, but to be 
pleased to meet him in the speediest, best, and most repu- 
table manner." 

Stuyvesant himself, in the letter which he 
afterwards sent home to the West India Com- 
pany excusing his surrender, enlarged still 
further upon the hopelessness of defence. 

" The fort," he wrote, " is situated in an untenable place 
where it was located on the first discovery of New Nether- 
land for the purpose of resisting any attack of barbarians 
rather than an assault of European arms. Having within 


tiona witb 




jfort amstert)am 

of tbe 

pistol-shot on north and northeasterly sides higher ground 
than that on which it stands, so that, notwithstanding the 
walls and works are raised the highest on that side, people 
standing and walking on that high ground can see the soles 
of the feet of those on the esplanade and bastions of the fort, 
where the view is not obstructed by the houses and church 
in it, and by the gabions on the wall. 

" Secondly, the fort was and is encompassed only by a 
slight wall, two or three feet thick backed by coarse gravel, 
not above eight, nine, or ten feet high in some places, in 
others higher according to the fall of the ground. 

" Thirdly, it is for the most part crowded all round-about 
with buildings better adapted for a cidatel than for defence 
against an open enemy. The houses are in many places 
higher than the wall and bastions, and render these wholly 
exposed. Most of the houses also have cellars not eight rods 
distant from the walls of the fort ; in some places, not two 
or three, and at one point scarce a rod from the wall, so that 
whoever is master of the city can readily approach with 
scaling ladders from the aforesaid houses the walls of the fort, 
which is unprovided with either wet or dry ditch ; and also 
if need be run a mine from the so close adjoining cellars and 
blow the place up. Besides this, the fort was and is without 
either well or cistern." 

The struggle was clearly hopeless and at 
last the old hero consented to the surrender. 
By the articles of capitulation Stuyvesant and 
his comrades were permitted to march out 
carrying arms, with drums beating, colors 
flying and matches lighted. On the vlag-spU 
in the corner of the fort, the English banner 
was raised, the name of the fort changed to 
Fort James and the bloodless victory accom- 

3f ort amstetC)am 


The treaty of Breda, signed in July, 1667, 
confirmed England's possession of New Am- 
sterdam. For nine years English rule pre- 
vailed in the colony, and English officers 
sunned their red coats on the bastions of the 
fort ; but, before yielding the supremacy, the 
Dutch made one more gallant struggle crowned 
by temporary success. In the spring of 1673, 
Holland and England being then again at war, 
the States-General despatched a fleet of five 
vessels under command of Commodores Cor- 
nelis Evertsen, Jr. and Jacob Benckes, Captains 
Antonio Colve, Nicholaes Boes and Abram 
Van Zyll. At the end of July, this fleet ap- 
peared in the bay, and their commander sent 
an abrupt summons to Deputy-Governor 
Manning, then in control of the fort, calling 
for immediate surrender. Manning, who was 
in control in the absence of Governor Love- 
lace, the successor of Nicolls, strove to delay 
the issue by parley, but the Dutch would not 
be put off, and really in the condition of the 
fort, which was as usual in a chronic state of 
disrepair, platforms and gun-carriages out of 
order, only four gun-sponges and but seventy 
or eighty gunners with neither spade nor 
handspike nor other implement of defence, it 
is hard to see what course but surrender was 
open to him, unless he was willing to see 
all the thatched roofs of the town go up in 
flame as soon as the enemy opened fire. The 

UteatB of 


jfort Hmster&am 

Httacf! of 

tbc Sutcb 


surrender, however, was bitterly resented by 
the authorities in England, and a series of 
charges was brought against "John Man- 
ning, Commander-in-Chiefe of James Forte." 
These charges set forth that on or about the 
28th day of July, 1673, " he having notice of 
an enemy's fleet coming into the bay," did 
not endeavor as he might to put the garrison 
into a state of defence. That on the 30th 
of July "he suffered the said enemyes with 
their Fleet to come and moare their ships 
under the fort." That he permitted boats to 
come ashore " loaden with men," and, worst 
of all, "that Hee strooke his Majestie's Flag 
before the ennemy that had landed, were in 
sight of the fort." There was so much swear- 
ing and counter-swearing in the course of this 
trial that it is difficult now, after the lapse of 
more than two centuries, to form any judg- 
ment of the rights of the controversy ; but it 
is evident that poor Manning made a con- 
venient scapegoat and, though he prayed on 
"the bended knees of his harte " that his ex- 
cuses might be "pondred," he was found 
guilty of cowardice, and his sword broken 
over his head in symbol of his disqualification 
for office. 

But the punishment of Manning did not help 
the British to recover New Amsterdam. The 
fort was taken, and though Manning strove to 
make terms stipulating that "all officers and 

ifort Hmster^am 271 

souldiers of ffort James should march out with nutcb 
amies, Drumes beating, cullers flying, Bagg ^^anT 
and Baggage without Hindrance or Molesta- ie73 
con," yet the agreement was not kept ; for 
Manning declared bitterly afterward that Col. 
Calvert " ingaged, his hand on his Brest," 
that upon "ye word and Honor of a Gentle- 
man, they should be Puncktually P'formed ; 
but p'fidiously breaking his faith and his 

The Dutch were triumphant. On the sur- 
render of Manning, the commander of the Dutch 
fleet took possession of the town and the fort. 
Down came the English flag once more, and 
up went the ensign of Holland. The name 
of New York was changed to New Orange, 
and Fort James became Fort " Willem Hen- 
rik." Antony Colve, one of the commanders 
of the fleet, was made Governor of the colony 
and commander-in-chief at the fort. 

During his rule the town was practically 
under martial law. At sunset each night, the 
guard at the fort, called the hoofd wagt, de- 
livered over the keys of the city to the Mayor, 
who proceeded to lock the gates and place the 
burger wagt, or citizen guard, on night watch. 
In the morning at sunrise this guard was re- 
lieved, and the Mayor again made the rounds 
of the city, unlocking gates.' Mrs. Sigourney, 

' Instructions to Jacobus Van Der Water, as Mayor of New 
Orange, done at Fort Willem Henrik 1 2 January, 1 674. " The 


ifort Hmster&am 


in a poem commemorating this time and cus- 
tom, writes: 

" Hail mighty city! — high must be his fame 
Who round thy bounds at sunrise now should walk. 
Still art thou lovely what so e'er thy name, 
New Amsterdam, New Orange or New York." 

The condition of the fort at the end of the 
second Dutch occupation was described by a 
traveller who visited it soon after it had passed 
into English hands. He says : 

" It is not large. It has four points or batteries. It has 
no moat outside, but is enclosed with a double row of 
palisades. It is built on the foundation with quarry stone. 
The parapet is of earth. It is well provided with cannon 
for the most part of iron, though there were some small brass 
pieces all bearing the mark or arms of the Netherlanders. 
The garrison is small. There is a well of fine water dug in 
the fort by the English, contrary to the opinion of the 
Dutch, who supposed the fort was built upon rock, and 
had therefore never attempted any such thing. There is in- 
deed some indication of stone there, for along the edge of 
the water below the fort there is a very large rock extend- 
ing apparently under the fort. It has only one gate, and 

Mayor shall take good care that in the morning the gates 
are opened at sunrise and locked again in the evening 
with sunset, for which purpose he shall go to the principal 
guard and there address himself to the commanding officer 
and demand to conduct him thither at least a sergeant with 
six soldiers all armed with guns. With these he shall pro- 
ceed to the fort to fetch the keys and return these again 
there as soon as the gates are opened or shut." 

3fort Hmstert)ant 


that is on the land side, opening upon a broad plane or 
street called the Broadway or Beaverway. Over this gate 
are the arms of the Duke of York. During the time of the 
Dutch there were two gates, another on the water side; but 
the English have closed it and made a battery there." 

In 1674, New Orange was returned by 
treaty to the British and resumed permanently 
its title of New York. The fort also resumed 
its name of Fort James, but only for a short 
time ; since on the accession of William and 
Mary it was rechristened in honor of the king, 
and finally, when Anne, who married Prince 
George of Denmark, ascended the throne, it 
received the name of Fort George, and under 
that title it continued until its final demolition 
at the close of the Revolutionary War. 

From beginning to end of its long life, this 
strange fortress continued a picturesque cum- 
berer of the ground, useless in war, worse 
than useless in peace ; and when at last it 
succumbed before the march of commerce 
there were few to regret its fall. 


again bcs 

mew ISort; 


The authorities for this paper are drawn 
chiefly from the Documents Relating to the 
Colonial History of the State of New York, 
the Documentary History of New York, 
O'Callaghan's History of New Netherland, the 
accounts of their travels, written by Captain 

2 74 ifort BmstertJam 

De Vries, Father Jogues and others, and 
the early City Records, now in process of 
translation from the Dutch, which by the 
courtesy of the translator, Mr. Berthold 
Fernow, I have been enabled to see in proof 

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financial street ; . . . how it was dignified by the meet- 
ing of Congress and the inauguration of Washington — all 
these matters are reviewed in Mr. Villard's pamphlet, as well 
as many others that may interest the curious reader just as 
much." — New York Sun. 

" Mrs. Bellamy's History of Govej-nor' s Island is evidently 
compiled with care, is brightly written, and is a pamphlet of 
genuine value to the historical student." — Buffalo Express, 



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